Anyone who’s played even a little bit of banjo has heard repeated requests for Dueling Banjos – even when playing by themselves.
The tune was initially recorded as Fuedin’ Banjos, a duet between a tenor and 5 string banjo, by author Arthur Smith and Don Reno in 1955, but has also been performed as Fussin’ Banjos with the duel taking place between a mandolin and banjo. But ever since Eric Weissberg’s recording of the tune was included in the 1972 film, Deliverence, and subsequently going to the top of the pop charts that summer, the format of the duel as between banjo and guitar, with the title as Dueling Banjos, has been cemented in the popular culture.
It has been recorded since in almost every imaginable style, on every manner of instruments, from classic rock to a pair of tubas.
But even after all this time, banjo picker Jack Hatfield found a new wrinkle for a performance at the 2013 Smoky Mountain Banjo Camp earlier this month in Gatlinburg, TN. Music begins at 2:40.
I was in the audience when this was filmed, and it was very well received by a roomful of banjo players.
Jack is a clever and funny guy, who operates Hatfield Music in nearby Pigeon Forge. A regular guy to the core, he is merely affecting the pompous air for the video.